Moonbox’s cheery ‘Company’ does Sondheim credit

The company performs "Side by Side by Side" in the Moonbox Productions' "Company." Photo: Sharman Altshuler

The company performs “Side by Side by Side” in the Moonbox Productions’ “Company.” Photo: Sharman Altshuler

BOSTON — Bobby is a 35-year-old bachelor in Manhattan, but it seems that all of his friends are married. Five married couples, in fact.
They form a close-knit protective cocoon around him, fussing about the fact he remains single and urging him to find someone and settle down.
The question: Are they motivated by concern or are they just miserable and can’t wait to drag him into their own miserable existence?
That’s the question to be answered in the Moonbox Production of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company,” now through March 1 at the Roberts Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts.
“Company,” which opened on Broadway in 1970, with a book by George Furth and music and lyrics by the esteemed Stephen Sondheim, won seven Tony Awards, but is challenging to stage, largely due to the complexities of the Sondheim score. At the time it was presented, it was one of the first musicals to deal with adult themes and relationships in a frank way .
“Company” unfolds in a series of scenes that have to do the celebration of Bobby’s 35th birthday and his relationship with the people in his life. The Greek chorus of his married friends take turns commenting on his choices and in general haranguing him about them.
David Carney as Robert is a “hale fellow well-met,” everyone’s friend but nobody’s fool, and he takes his friends as they come, adjusting his approach — and his behavior — to their sensibilities.
He is conflicted, torn between the security and the saneness of a marriage and the whirlwind life of a bachelor in the Big Apple. Robert fails to commit to anyone — or anything — and lives life on his own terms, much to the consternation of his married friends.
Carney cracked on a couple of high notes early on in two ballads in a recent show but he relaxed later on and his renditions “Marry Me A Little” and “Being Alive” were heartfelt highlights.
Furth’s book may not have stood the test of time — more a result of changing attitudes and what the world is like today — but the score is quite simply iconic and one of Sondheim’s finest hours.
Bobby’s three very different girlfriends — sensible Kathy (Lisa Dempsey), ditzy April (Katie Clark) and quirky Marta (Megan Alicia) — can all agree on what they think about him in the snappy “You Could Drive a Person Crazy.”
And Alicia as Marta followed that with a spirited rendition of “Another Hundred People,” an ode to the people who are constantly streaming in and out of the city but whom never seem to connect.
In addition to the title tune, there is an anthem to the joys and sorrows of marriage (“Sorry/Grateful“) a snappy production number (“Side by Side by Side”) and even a novelty piece in “Getting Married Today,” in which crazed bride-to-be Amy (Shonna Cirrone) buzzes through a 100 mph recounting of why she shouldn’t be getting married to someone like longtime partner Paul (Peter Mill), no matter how nice he is.
Indeed, some of the best performances in this “Company” are by the ladies, including the
estimable Leigh Barrett, who as Joanne launches the bitter broadside “The Ladies Who Lunch,” a song which helped relaunch Elaine Stritch’s career.
Chorerographer Rachel Bertone does a fine job with the movement, especially in “Side by Side by Side,” and music director Dan Rodriguez and his musicians show a strong feel for the nuances of the score.
Director Allison Choat has coaxed strong performances across the board, vital because “Company” is a true ensemble piece and the weak link will be found out before the end of the first song.
Moonbox, a most welcome entrant on the local theater scene, continues to grow in stature.
Moonbox Productions’ “Company,” presented through March 1 in the Roberts Studio Theatre of the Calderwood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts. Book by George Furth, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Directed by Allison Choat. Choreographed by Rachel Bertone.